Granados and Goyescas

RATHER A MOUTHFUL FOR A NEW POST, but judge for yourselves. Enrique Granados is without doubt the creator of modern Spanish music for the piano. I learned that early on as a teenager when I was introduced to that composer’s music via his two books  of Goyescas and some of his Spanish Dances (Danzas espanoles.) My favorite was – and still is – No. 4 of the Goyescas Suite, namely, Quejas a la Maja y el Ruisenor – The Maiden and the Nightingale. 
It is performed here on YouTube by the Cuban pianist Jorge Luis Prats and the intricate score is also reproduced for your enjoyment.

The piano writing of Goyescas is highly ornamented and extremely difficult to master, requiring both subtle dexterity and great power. Some of them have a strong improvisational feel. The Maiden and the Nightingale resembles a nocturne, but is filled with intricate figuration, inner voices and, near the end, glittering bird-like trills and quicksilver arpeggios.

Background:
Granados was born July 27, 1867 in Lleida, Spain, the son of Calixto Granados, a Spanish army captain, and Enriqueta Campiña. As a young man he studied piano in Barcelona, where his teachers included Francisco Jurnet and Joan Baptista Pujol. In 1887 he went to Paris to study. He was unable to become a student at the Paris Conservatoire, but he was able to take private lessons with a conservatoire professor, Charles-Wilfrid de Bériot, whose mother, the soprano Maria Malibran, was of Spanish ancestry. Bériot insisted on extreme refinement in tone production, which strongly influenced Granados’s own teaching of pedal technique. He also fostered Granados’s abilities in improvisation. Just as important were his studies with Felip Pedrell. He returned to Barcelona in 1889. His first successes were at the end of the 1890s, with the opera María del Carmen, which attracted the attention of King Alfonso XIII.

In 1911 Granados premiered his suite for piano Goyescas, which became his
most famous work. It was performed for the first time in New York City on 28 January 1916, and was very well received. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to perform a piano recital for President Woodrow Wilson. Prior to leaving New York, Granados also made live-recorded player piano music rolls for the New-York-based Aeolian Company’s “Duo-Art” system, all of which survive today and can be heard – his very last recordings.

On his way back by boat to France via England, the passenger ferry SS Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat, as part of the German World War I policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Granados and his wife perished in the English Channel on March 24, 1916 and left parent-less their six children: Eduard (a musician), Solita, Enrique (a swimming champion), Víctor, Natalia, and Francisco.

References:
Wikipedia; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen

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